When we belong to a church or faith community where people are judged according to the level of faith they seem to exhibit, often people who suffer from depression get labeled as lacking in faith, which in turn compounds a person’s depression!
The symptoms of anxiety and depression are real, and often get confused for a lack of faith, by well-meaning church people, who proclaim, “Just have faith!” but the implication that “your symptoms will go away” is there.
The people who say those words and the people listening to them understand the implication, even if it isn’t spoken, for when an anxious or depressed person DOESN’T experience their symptoms leaving, the way they are subsequently treated bears this out.
I have experienced this first-hand myself, and have seen MANY people who struggled with anxiety and depression treated this way too.
The expectations are there, and when a person experiences a continuation of their mental health issues, the criticism they receive for their perceived “lack of faith” is CRUSHING!
What many well-meaning people don’t realize is that many of the people who experience anxiety and depression, are also prayer warriors, who pray multiple times per day, even multiple times an hour for help!
I have learned that HOW we’re taught to pray can either ADD TO or diminish a person’s anxiety levels!
I had belonged to 2 fundamental churches, where we were encouraged to pray for help and for what we wanted, in GREAT detail!
If things didn’t work out according to our prayers, we were harshly judged, that we weren’t strong enough, or fervent enough with our prayers!
What do you think that did to people who were already struggling with anxiety or depression?
Correct! Their mental health issues became more urgent!
I can’t tell you how many weeks I’d end up going to the restroom crying, to find a dozen or more women also crying! Added to those numbers were the men I saw emerging from their restroom with red eyes, looking distraught.
When we focus our prayers on the problems, our anxiety levels increase
Through experience I can attest that praying in great detail over problems actually increased my anxiety levels, because I was getting laser focused on the problems, pleading that I was struggling, and that I felt I didn’t have what it took to work it through.
Logically, we think that if we had what it took, we’d already be doing it!
However, the truth is, we don’t always realize WHAT we’re able to do, nor do we see that we can develop the skills!
By spending time praying deeply and in detail about our struggles, we are actually immersing ourselves more and more in the anxiety producing negativity of our lives!
This is exactly what happened to me over the course of a few years.
Not only did my mental health take a beating, but since I was criticized and attacked for my apparent “lack of faith” I suffered spiritually too.
It was so bad that my daughter was told that her health issues (severe IBS) was because my spiritual sins had allowed God to punish and correct me through both of our health issues.
Naturally my relationship with her suffered when she was told her illness was my fault! Her IBS got so much worse from the mental and emotional toll the stresses took on her. She still struggles with worrying about being severely judged, the way we had been in the churches.
I had reached a point where I didn’t feel I deserved to walk on the earth or to breathe the air, and had planned my exit from this world, at a time she was visiting with her father. I was so destroyed mentally and spiritually that I felt she would be better off without me.
A different way of praying helped to release me from the anxieties!
My mental health took a turn for the better when I changed my approach to HOW I prayed!
I had learned a new concept of “flipping the script”, from focusing on the negative, to focusing on the positive!
Instead of getting into a negative mental mind mode of praying for help with my troubles, I started to pray prayers of thanks for all the things which were working!
I say thanks for all the things which are working well in my life; I say thanks for the help I’m receiving for my troubles and difficulties, I say thanks for helping my friends and loved ones, I say thanks for each of my blessings.
This shift has allowed me to completely change my outlook on my life, and it has helped me to feel great about all the divine help I receive, instead of feeling let down or ignored!
This shift has helped my faith increase, because I now know that I am loved and not abandoned!
This shift has helped me to release resentments of being placed in situations where I feel diminished or overwhelmed.
I’m now able to really see all the many, many ways in which I’m being helped!
The old way of focusing on the troubles only intensified a feeling of lack, a deep feeling of worthlessness, an uneasy feeling that I deserved far less than anyone else.
Instead of those negative feelings disturbing my mental health and leaving me feeling depressed, I feel uplifted, supported and encouraged!
Our faith is something we hold inside of ourselves, and it doesn’t need to be measured by anyone else to be valid!
Our faith is something which holds us together, it keeps us going, and the positive or the negative things going on in our lives aren’t proof or dis-proof of it!
We don’t need to allow other people to take a measure of what’s going on inside of us, to proclaim if we’re being a true believer!
Our depression or anxiety isn’t proof of a lack of faith!
Speak kindly to yourself!
Try flipping the script when you pray, so you are coming from a place of gratitude, where you teach yourself to feel the abundance of love that the universe has for you, instead of focusing on the negatives!
Try it out for a few days, and if you start to feel better, keep doing it!
Praying in detail about your problems or how you want them fixed isn’t helpful to God and your Angels, for they see a much bigger picture than we ever could, and are able to work many more things out, in a much better way! After all, nobody likes to be micro-managed!
Strong faith is recognizing this truth and allowing them to work everything out on our behalf, knowing that we are loved and cherished!
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